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Wi-Fi Direct Set To Replace Bluetooth?

When it comes to seeting up an impromptu short-ranged wireless connection to share files between two or more PCs or devices, Bluetooth is usually the first thing people think of. But a new standard known as Wi-Fi Direct could see the Bluetooth’s usefulness quickly vanish into the void, if it ever gains traction.

Read on to find out more.

What do people usually do when they have a few small-sized files they want to share wirelessly to the person sitting a few meters from them? That’s right: they turn on the Bluetooth card in their notebook PC, desktop or mobile, yell at the other party to do the same, enter in a pairing code and let the wonders of Bluetooth technology work its magic. Simple and easy to set up, while remaining as obstructive as possible.

Except that Bluetooth is not perfect. For one, Bluetooth transfer speeds are generally slow enough to be considered unsuitable for the transfer of large files. And more importantly, Bluetooh is not immune to certain security flaws which further reduces its appeal for use among the security conscious.

The alternatives? Well, there is at least one such alternative standard which appears capable of replacing Bluetooth, and it involves the use of Wi-Fi. Or more specifically, the Wi-Fi Direct standard, which was announced by the Wi-Fi Alliance a year ago.

In a press release issued by the Wi-Fi Alliance yesterday, the alliance has confirmed that it had already started to certify devices which are compatible with the standard. The alliance states that by doing so, it has set the stage for a gradual introduction of Wi-Fi Direct to the masses.

“We designed Wi-Fi Direct to unleash a wide variety of applications which require device connections, but do not need the internet or even a traditional network,” said Edgar Figueroa, CEO of the Wi-Fi Alliance.  “Wi-Fi Direct empowers users to connect devices – when, where and how they want to, and our certification program delivers products that work well together, regardless of the brand.”

Unlike conventional Wi-Fi connections which require the presence of an access point, Wi-Fi Direct works by embedding a software-based access point (or Soft AP) into a Wi-Fi-Direct certified device. When the Soft AP is activated, any Wi-Fi compatible device (which essentially refers to all notebooks and most mobile phones) can connect to the Soft AP via the ad-hoc protocol.

More importantly, security on Wi-Fi Direct connections are considered fairly robust, due to its support for WPA2 encryption. And when one takes into consideration that almost every single notebook and smartphone features built-in support for Wi-Fi, it is hard to deny that the standard may have what it takes to replace the ageing Bluetooth entirely.

But even then, it is probably still too early to predict the demise of Bluetooth, especially when the current Bluetooth v3.0 standard allows for file transfer over the WiFi protocol. But we shall wait and see.

Source: Wi-Fi Alliance

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